Did a 6 Week Absence Cause My Budgie’s Negative Behavior?

Hi Mitch,

 

My name is Barbara T, and you and I just spoke re my parakeet, Ricky, who has been treated by an Avian specialist, Gloria Goodman, VMD (website: avianexoticvetpa.com), for mites since July 2nd, 2020.  

 

As I told you, I had surgery and my sister took care of the bird from May 12th through June 28th. 

 

I noticed immediately that his face looked like it had rot on it and he seemed “antsy”—pecking on his feathers and rubbing his head, especially around the eye area, on the cage. 

 

I called the vet and she saw him on July 2nd. 

 

She said it was mites and gave him treatment. 

 

I returned to see her on July 16th and Ricky received another treatment for mites (an Ivermectin dose on both visits).  

 

On 9/21, I took Ricky again to the vet and she did a gram stain and administered ivermectin. Gloria Goodman, VMD (website: avianexoticvetpa.com).  

 

We returned on 10/5 and she administered another Ivermectin dose.  

 

On 10/19 he got the third dose of Ivermectin and she did a fungal culture.  

 

On 12/14, the rot was back around the eye area and we saw the vet again who did a gram stain, skin scrape and gave another dose of Ivermectin.  

 

We returned again on 12/12 and since the gram stain showed more yeast than she liked she told me to use Diflucan (a probiotic) twice a day sprinkled on his food. 

 

Do that for a week and then switch to once a day for another week.

 

Tomorrow (1/5/2021) will be Ricky’s final day on Diflucan. 

 

His face looks good but I still see him rubbing his head and sometimes picking at his feathers–not sure if he’s grooming when he does that.

 

When he stayed with my sister, she did cover his cage at night, which I never have done.

During the day when she worked, she had the TV on quite loud as her hearing is not good. 

 

As we discussed it appears this long stay at my sister’s house was quite traumatic for him.

 

He is 3 years old and I’ve never had any problem with him until I got him back from her house.  I never saw mites in the cage either.

 

I feed him at about 7 AM.  

 

His morning feed is “birdie bread”, with less than a spoonful of Kaytee Healthy Support Diet Forti Diet Pro Healthy seeds and Kaytee Parakeet Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet mixed together.  

 

These seeds have been baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes in the oven.  

 

The birdie bread consists of one box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. 

 

I follow the package directions and then I add 1/3 cup of his Kaytee seed mixture, 1/3 cup of Harrison’s Adult Lifetime Mash, and 1/3 cup of Harrisons Adult Lifetime Fine.  I also include 1 jar of stage 2 baby food that can include anything from sweet potatoes to green beans, to corn, spinach, and asparagus.  

 

 

Everything is blended together and then baked.  

 

When cooled, it is all broken apart and put in freezer bags to store until needed.

 

I then add to that a teaspoon of millet, which has been baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes in the oven, and sprinkle less than a teaspoon of the Kaytee seed mixture on top.

 

Every morning his cage is cleaned and a new paper is laid on the slide-out bottom tray. 

 

All traces of feces are wiped off and any food crusted on the side of the cage or wooden roost perch is wiped off.

 

I am interested in trying something instead of taking him to the vets and only getting temporary fixes. ]

I am very interested in light therapy and am looking forward to any literature, advice, instructions that you can provide, Mitch. 

 

God bless you and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. 

 

I know you are a busy man. 

 

I am looking forward to hearing back from you so I can start making my little guy well again. 

 

If there is any information you need that I have not provided, please let me know, okay?

budgie cage on hanging stand in a living room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cage itself measures    15 in. Length ~ 13 1/2 in.  Width ~  17 in. Height

 

FYI: We have recessed lighting in that room where Ricky is. 

 

There is a recessed light almost right above his cage.  

 

I do not know the wattage, but my electrician will be here tomorrow and he will tell me. 

 

I’ll let you know, okay?

 

Hope this information is helpful.  If you need anything else, let me know.

 

Hi Mitch,

My electrician just left and there’s a recessed light almost above Ricky’s cage and it’s 65 watts LED light.  

 

We put it on at 8 am yesterday and turned it off at 8 pm and then we put it on again today at 8 am.  Not sure if I should be doing that, but I thought I’d let you know.

 

Barb T.

 

Greetings Barbara,

 

I am so sorry to hear about Ricky.

 

It is also surprising to hear about the lack of success your avian veterinarian encountered considering the multiple visits.

 

Let’s first review some of the things we spoke about on the phone starting with the six weeks your budgie spent with your sister while you recovered from surgery.

 

When you came back for Ricky he was displaying feather self-destruction by rubbing his head against the cage bars, especially around the eye area.

 

Ricky endured many stress triggers the entire time you were gone.

 

Covering the cage at night when your budgie was used to it being uncovered was traumatic.

The loud TV during the day probably was another stress trigger.

 

You then provided superior veterinary care using the services of Gloria Goodman, VMD (website: avianexoticvetpa.com).

 

Dr. Goodman diagnosed the problem as being mites and administered several doses of Ivermectin which I find odd because mites are an external parasite but Ivermectin Is used to treat internal parasites like roundworms unless it’s used topically and in this case, it was not.

 

 It’s easy to see if your birdcage has a Mite infestation.

 

\Simply put a blank piece of computer paper under that long dowel perch in the middle of the birdcage (which we have to talk about)  and tap it with a pen or pencil, anything that’s handy.

 

Tap-tap-tap.

 

If you see small squirmy brownish reddish tiny “dots” landing on the paper, the cage and bird have mites.

 

If the paper’s blank,  there are no mites in the cage.

 

Keeping In mind mites are nocturnal if you or the vet have seen any critters.

 

Use a magnifying glass to see if there is any activity on the bird’s face. 

 

That said, there are 4 types of mites and burrowing Face Mites (aka Knemidocoptiasis)  which are normally found on smaller birds like parakeets and canaries. 

 

These mites can sometimes be identified by a thick crusty skin on a budgies cere (nostrils). 

 

Sometimes they can be seen with a magnifying glass (keeping in mind they are nocturnal Read more ~  How Do I Treat Macaw Mites 

 

 

You also talked about dr. Goodman’s use of Diflucan which is another antifungal agent not a probiotic.

 

Another treatment your vet made which again is opaque to me as to the reason for this. 

 

Re: His face looks good but I still see him rubbing his head and sometimes picking at his feathers–not sure if he’s grooming when he does that.

 

Please use this post as a guide:

 

What’s the Difference Between Feather Preening, Plucking & Molting?

 

Let’s Talk about Ricky’s diet. 

 

re: “His morning feed is “birdie bread”, with less than a spoonful of Kaytee Healthy Support Diet Forti Diet Pro Healthy seeds and Kaytee Parakeet Fiesta Gourmet Variety Diet mixed together.  

 

These seeds have been baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes in the oven.  

 

The birdie bread consists of one box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. 

 

I don’t understand why you are baking the seeds,  it’s an unnecessary step.

 

The problem with using Kaytee Healthy Support Diet Forti Diet Pro for Ricky is that millet is one of the main ingredients.

 

The vet also mentioned a higher level of yeast that she would like to see.

Other ingredients we find in the Kaytee blend are  “Brewers Dried Yeast” and “Yeast Extract,” which are contributing to his high yeast levels.

 

In spite of all the Healthy looking ingredients:

 

Sunflower Seed, Safflower Seed, Oat Groats, Corn, Ground Corn, Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Millet, Milo, Whole Peanuts, Buckwheat, Green Split Peas, Pumpkin Seed, Flax Seed (Source of Omega-3), Dried Red Peppers, Canary Grass Seed, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ground Wheat, Wheat Middlings, Ground Rice, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Germ Meal, L-Lysine, Vitamin A Supplement, Choline Chloride, Ground Flax Seed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Sun-cured Alfalfa Meal, Fructooligosaccharide, Coconut Oil, DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Yeast Extract, Ferrous Sulfate, Orange Oil, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Niacin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K activity), Marigold Extract, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Rosemary Extract, Citric Acid, Cholecalciferol (Source of Vitamin D3), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Cobalt Carbonate, Canthaxanthin (Color), Sodium Selenite, Dried Bacillus licheniformis Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, FD&C Yellow #5, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Red #3, FD&C Blue #1

 

The supplements are poured over the seeds so that when the bird removes the husks,  all supplements are lost. 

Re: His 2nd feeding is about 4:00 PM.  

“This consists of crushed assorted treats, like Rice Krispies, Crispix Cereal, Pepperidge Farm Trio Crackers, Nilla Wafers and Peanut Butter Ritz Bits.”

Everything listed above is high in salt or high in sugar both of which are bad for birds and should only be offered as a piece of a single cracker or cookie.

 

I will recommend our Perfect Recipe for Your Parakeet Blend, seed mix.

 

Not only will Ricky receive a more nutritious diet but it will give him the opportunity to “forage” as he goes through the seeds to pick what he likes and does not.

 

What he does not will fall to the bottom of the cage which is what tens of millions of years of instinctual expectations have taught him (sow the seeds into the earth).

 

BTW, I send this video to all the people I hear say “seeds are bad for parakeets.”

 

 

Now for my favorite subject of all time, lighting for birds.

 

How to Remodel a Cage to Reduce 2 Bird’s Hormonal Behavior is a  long piece elaborating how another one of our readers found success using light therapy.

 

My Spidey sense tells me 72 hours of light therapy is a good place to start. 

 

Ricky’s birdcage.

 

I appreciate that your electrician putting in a recessed light near Ricky’s birdcage.

 

The problem is because of its height and wattage it will have no effect on the bird.

 

There is a law of physics that explains this phenomenon but let me offer this chart so you can see how quickly available light from a given source drops off in a very short distance.

 

zoomed bulb box illustration of the inverse square law of light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will advocate that the recessed light be used as the electrical source for a swag light.

 

Simply replace the lightbulb with a 120-volt outlet that would screw into the recessed light’s socket.

socket to plug outlet adapter

 

Then install a swag hook over Ricky’s cage and drop the swag light to about 6 inches above the cage.

 

This is what the end result would look like on a smaller scale.

 

Double-double birdcage lighting project

 

Let’s circle back to that long thin dowel perch in the cage.

 

Those are terrible for any bird’s feet is they have no irregularities thus post no challenge to a bird’s feet which they are on 24/7 unless in flight.

 

The plastic JW perch is fine where it is.

 

Do Dowel Perches Harm Budgies Feet?

 

I’ll advocate to remove the dowel perch and move the soft Booda rope perch to the top 1/3 of the cage where he will naturally migrate to and begin sleeping on.

 

That is much better for his feet.

 

Speaking of which,  I doubt your veterinarian did an examination of the bottom of Ricky’s feet?

 

When you get a moment with your husband please wrap the bird in a towel,  flip him over and look at the bottom of his feet with a magnifying glass looking for sores or irritations.

 

 We have found foot pain to be another plucking trigger.

 

Three or four “shreddable toys”  would be a welcome addition providing both enrichment opportunities and privacy.

 

Arranging Your Bird’s Cage: The Cage Canopy Concept

 

Kudos on your sanitation regimen.

 

Unfortunately, not every pet bird keeper, pays their due diligence as well as you.

 

BTW,  we’ve been rescuing budgies for four years and currently have six so we know the species,  quite well.

 

Build a renewable budgie privacy hut
for enrichment after restocking the cage

 

I hope this information was helpful and the two of you are able to execute proper light therapy with both the  72 hour and daily lighting protocols.

 

Do let us know of your successes and your challenges.

 

Stay safe

Best

MitchR

Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground.Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care.He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis.He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. You bird was improving with probiotics. Use a tiny amount for a longer period of time, just once each day. I find it to have an extremely beneficial effect on budgies’ health. I use Dr. Harvey’s best parakeet food. I mix in some Roudybush and Zupreem pellets, which I grind in the coffee grinder (otherwise they won’t touch it). I sprinkle on some Nekton S and the barest amount of the probiotic. I know the vets don’t like it, but it has had amazing benefits and keeps them well. I buy one on Amazon.

    I have a guinea pig who also uses daily probiotics. He really needs it. I won’t bore you with reasons, but suffice it to say that his health is not so good without it. He has a very good diet. I think being domesticated can cause them some problems and gut health issues seem to be among them.

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